Skilled workers in demand at upcoming job fairs


Published: Saturday, January 17, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 16, 2009 at 9:40 p.m.

Leave it to health care to stem the bleeding.

Facts

Job fairs at a glance

  • Santa Fe is holding a job fair for students and the community at its Archer campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. The campus is at 17500 SW Archer Road, a half mile west of U.S. 41.
  • The Villages retirement community is holding a job fair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at 8000 NW 27th Blvd.
  • UF is holding the Career Showcase for students and alumni only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the O’Connell Center.
  • FloridaWorks is putting together a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 10 at the SFC Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at 530 W. University Ave.

Job seekers with skills, especially in health care, are having a lot easier time finding work in Gainesville’s shrinking job market.

The Gainesville area lost 600 jobs from November 2007 to November 2008, according to the latest numbers from the state.

But skilled workers are in demand at various job fairs next week and through the state’s job matching database.

“I can’t deny the numbers, but I’m really not having that much difficulty getting students jobs,” said Bruce Gordon, coordinator of career and job placement at Santa Fe College. “The difference is that people without any skills I have difficulty placing.”

In a community with several hospitals and medical services, Gordon said the most in-demand positions are in nursing and health management.

Santa Fe is holding a job fair for students and the community at its Archer campus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The campus is at 17500 SW Archer Road, a half mile west of U.S. 41.

Twenty employers will be on hand, including colleges and universities that need instructors, and county schools and sheriff’s offices. The Veterans Affairs Medical Center is seeking to fill more than 100 openings as it gears up for its expansion, Gordon said.

The Villages retirement community and the University of Florida are also holding job fairs.

With a phased-in expansion under way, The Villages will be adding 50-70 people this year, according to human resources director Jennifer Davis. Those include health services, but also positions for cooks, wait staff, housekeepers, fitness, accounting and maintenance.

Applications are pouring in. Davis said they typically receive 100-150 applications a month, but have received 414 applications in the past 15 days in response to advertising.

“We’re slammed for any kind of job,” said recruiting coordinator Matthew Conner. “A majority of applications I get say they want any position open. We really need to be specific as to what we need.”

The Villages job fair is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at 8000 NW 27th Blvd.

Competition is highest for jobs without specific qualifications.

Lowe’s Home Improvement received 1,500 to 1,700 applications within three weeks for 120-130 openings at the new Alachua store opening in late February. An employee at the hiring office said Friday that the jobs were pretty much filled.

For those who don’t have the skills, now is the time to get the degrees, training or certifications, said Kim Tesch-Vaught, senior director of work force for FloridaWorks.

UF is holding the Career Showcase for students and alumni only from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the O’Connell Center. The event drew 223 employers with multiple positions available in engineering, retail, computing, accounting, marketing and business management.

FloridaWorks is putting together a job fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 10 at the SFC Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at 530 W. University Ave. Tesch-Vaught encourages job seekers to register at employflorida.com and complete their skill and work history descriptions.

FloridaWorks is the regional work force agency for Alachua and Bradford counties. The state employflorida.com database has 327 new openings for the region since Nov. 2 that have received 4,676 referrals from job seekers, Tesch-Vaught said. The number of job seekers registered in the system is up more than 20 percent so far this fiscal year compared to last year.

Of 8,633 to register in 2008, the numbers were almost evenly divided by a third for those with less than a high school diploma, those with a high school diploma only and those with a vocational certificate or higher.

Health care has jobs from entry level and up, requiring everything from a high school diploma to advanced degrees, she said.

Fields with multiple jobs in the system include education, commercial construction, food service and engineering.

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